Prince Ghosh

5 questions with… CWRU’s Hyperloop project team leader Prince Ghosh

Growing up, Prince Ghosh was fascinated by planes, trains and automobiles. But now, the sophomore mechanical and aerospace engineering student is interested in a brand-new form of transportation: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop project.

Musk, CEO and chief technology officer of SpaceX and co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, introduced the Hyperloop project in 2013. He envisioned a new high-speed mode of transportation using trains accelerated by magnetic levitation that travel in semi-pressurized tubes.

“We’re stuck in this conundrum where traveling by car often becomes a lengthy and inefficient process,” Ghosh said. “Traveling by plane cuts (the time) down by a lot, but is just terrible for the environment. And traveling by train has just become very outdated.”

That’s where the Hyperloop comes in; it would offer a more efficient and environmentally friendly option.

So Ghosh teamed up with friends and fellow engineering students Luke Fakult and Marc Bouchet to enter the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition, which seeks to accelerate the timeline to a functional hyperloop prototype.

Now Ghosh, who leads the team, dubbed North Coast Hyperloop, and his partners will work to advance in the multi-staged competition, which ends with finalists traveling to Hawthorne, California, to test their pods on SpaceX’s 1-mile text track.

Ghosh is seeking help from the Cleveland community, and involving faculty and students at the Weatherhead School of Management and designers at the Cleveland Institute of Art. The team’s faculty adviser is Richard Bachmann, an adjunct instructor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

“In the past few years, Cleveland has really been rallying in terms of putting money toward innovation and people becoming a lot more engaged,” Ghosh said. “We really want to push this outside of just Case Western Reserve engineering.”

Ghosh considers North Coast Hyperloop a culmination of everything he’s ever been interested in—which is precisely what he’d hoped for in college.

Confused about what major to choose, Ghosh was inspired by The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, which suggests the importance of pursuing one’s childhood passions. Based on the advice from what he now considers his favorite book, Ghosh remembered what had always intrigued him as a child: science.

And the Hyperloop project brings Ghosh right back to that early interest, only now he’s pushing the boundaries of what transportation means.

“I really do think this is an opportunity to change the way we interact with the world,” he said. “Every so often, new innovations come by—the car, the train, the plane. I think it’s long overdue for a new mode of transportation.”

Find out more about what inspires Ghosh in this week’s five questions.

1. Who has been your most influential mentor?

My dad, by far, has been the most influential mentor of my life. Oddly enough, this is something I’ve only come to realize as I’ve grown older and experienced more. I think back, “Huh, maybe I should have listened to my dad.” I know that’s something he revels in. In all honesty, my dad just embodies so many things that I strive to push myself to be, not only as a student, but as a human and citizen.

2. What was your first job?

My first actual job was over the summer between 10th and 11th grades. I worked as a sandwich artist at Subway. Honestly, that job over the summer for those two months was one of the biggest life-changing experiences for me.

I learned the value of what earning $9.50 an hour is, and that’s something I’ve carried with me. I learned that when you have a job, regardless of what happens outside, you leave the rest of the world outside and you do your job and you do it well. I think that work ethic is something I’ve carried with me into the classroom as a student and as an involved member of Undergraduate Student Government.

I never want to lose touch with that grounded-ness that working gives you—that realization that money does not just grow from trees.

3. Who is your favorite author?

This is tough. My two favorite fiction authors are Khaled Hosseini, who wrote The Kite Runner, and J.K. Rowling. The Kite Runner is probably, to this day, my [fiction] favorite singular book. I think Hosseini has the ability to write in such a way that’s honestly amazing. I don’t know how he does it, but he just manages to take me to a world completely far away.

As far as my favorite nonfiction author, [it’s] Randy Pausch. The Last Lecture is definitely my favorite book. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who has the chance to read it. Dr. Randy Pausch was diagnosed with cancer when he was about in his mid-40s, so he decided to give a last lecture for all of his students and the rest of his faculty [at Carnegie Mellon University]. He decided to write a book with it. It was a 52-chapter book, and each chapter is about a different lesson in life. So many of the decisions I make and values I stand by today are as a result of reading that book.

4. How do you like to spend your time when you’re away from school and/or work?

I really like playing tennis. I played four years of varsity tennis throughout high school and I don’t get to as much, but that’s what I like to do when I go home.

Something I’ve recently taken up is playing ukulele. My roommate and I have ukuleles, and there will be nights where we’ll just come home and we’ll both be exhausted and we’ll learn a new song. Our most recent one is “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran. It’s such a casual thing, and we’re both probably terrible and think we’re not that bad, but that’s such a big de-stressor.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?

Without a doubt, the people. There’s so few places that you are surrounded by so many people who are just so freaking good at what they do, whether it be in academia or research.

But, honestly, every day, I’m just completely astounded by the new perspectives that people bring. Just when I think I’ve seen all sides to a story, I’ll meet someone else who offers a new point of view that I’ve never considered before.

There are just so many different stories from so many different parts of the world. It’s amazing because you obviously can’t experience everything yourself, but by surrounding yourself with people, that gives you at least a little bit of a glimpse into how the rest of the world outside Cleveland works.